Tuesday, April 11, 2006
GUEST AUTHOR - Broos Campbell - captured by the sea's magic
Broos Campbell is the author of the Matty Graves sea adventure series. The first book, NO QUARTER, was issued in hardcover by McBooks Press of Ithaca, New York, in April 2006
When I was 40, I ran away to sea.
I’d grown up reading the Hornblower books and I wanted to see for myself what square-rig sailing was like.
And I didn’t like it.
I hate being cold and wet, which sailors are most of the time. And I hate making a fool of myself, which there’s plenty of opportunity for in a tall ship.
But it was only a two-week stint, anyway, in the brig Lady Washington out of Grays Harbor in Washington state.
We’d motor out of the harbor and then the captain would cut the engine.
There would be a terrible lull, with the waves lapping at the hull and the masts swaying in the swell.
Then the captain would call, “All idle hands, lay aloft!”
There’s no “after you, mate” in a square-rigger.
If you’re next to the windward shrouds when the call comes, up you go.
It’s that or go ashore. No one trusts you, otherwise.
We were coming into harbor one evening after I’d been aboard about a week.
We’d furled everything and had nothing more to do till we reached the dock but loaf around.
I was sitting on the fore topmast yard talking to an old hand.
She looked around at the forest stretching off into the distance and the setting sun lighting up the clouds with God rays, and said, “Don’t you just love it?”
I said no, I hated it.
She said she’d hated it too for the first week, but then suddenly it had become magical.
I didn’t believe her.
I was too ashamed of my misery to find my way out of it.
But the next evening there I was again, in the same place, dangling my feet and looking around at the view - and it was magical.
I suddenly realized I was exactly where I belonged and I had no desire to be anywhere else in the world.
It’s hard to come by that sort of serenity.
You won’t find it in a bottle, and you won’t find it in someone’s arms.
You can only find it by being absolutely worthy of the trust that others place in you.
That’s the only place I’ve ever found it, anyway.
To find out more about the Matty Graves series, try e-mailing Broos. He can be reached through his admittedly rudimentary Web site at http://www.broos-campbell.com/
Broos' photo by Walter Mladina